One of the only Boston  neighborhoods that is genuinely racially integrated, Jamaica Plain includes remnants of a sizeable “lace curtain” Irish population living side-by-side with a lesbian community and Boston’s largest Latino enclave. Centre Street is one of the funkier shopping districts in town, with hipster clothing and record stores interspersed with coffee shops and bakeries.
The Jamaica Plain neighborhood is also surrounded by green space, with the large Jamaica Pond on one side and gargantuan Franklin Park, designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, on the other. On the southern rim of the neighborhood is the Arnold Arboretum (125 Arborway, Jamaica Plain, 617/524-1718, www.arboretum.harvard.edu , sunrise–sunset daily, free), owned by Harvard University  and containing more than 200 acres of rambling hillside covered with rhododendrons, lilacs, and other flowering plants and hardwood trees.
No one is quite sure how Jamaica Plain got its unusual name—some speculate it comes from the rum distillers who settled there during colonial times. The neighborhood certainly made its fortunes through alcohol, as German brewers set up shop along the fresh water of Stony Brook. One of their breweries is now occupied by Boston Beer Company (30 Germania St., Jamaica Plain, 617/368-5080, www.samueladams.com ), the makers of Samuel Adams beer.
Founded in 1984, the company began the revolution that turned American beer from watery pilsners to full-bodied microbrewed lagers and ale. The Boston Beer Company offers tours (2P10 a.m. Wed.–3 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 2P10 a.m. and .–5:30 p.m. Fri., every half hour noon10 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat., year-round, $2 suggested donation) of the brewing process along with a historical presentation on the history of beer in Boston —including the early efforts by patriot Sam Adams himself.